Benefits of Squats ft. Xercise4less*

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'The myth that women shouldn't lift heavy is only perpetuated by women who fear hard work and men who fear women.'

It's been nearly four years since I first started therapy... nearly two years since I first started training, but really only about 15 months since I 100% committed myself to recovery, to strength and to health. 15 months since I decided not to focus on the weight on the scales going down, but the weight on the bar going up. Sometimes, you need to remind yourself that a scale cannot measure character, talent, beauty, purpose, strength or love. Strength training, especially focusing on heavy compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts and cleans has provided for me what no therapy ever could: full, honest and absolute belief in my own ability to stay strong under pressure.

Unfortunately, so many young women are still too afraid to venture into the free weights section of a gym, partially due to fear of judgement, but primarily due to the 'male dominant' environment that can seem incredibly intimidating to an outsider. But I want to break this misconception that these gym floors are not places for women... that lifting weights will make you bulky... that women can't and shouldn't lift heavy weights... (but if you're still having reservations, all Xercise4less gyms have women's only training areas! Memberships start at £9.99 a month so be sure to check out your local gym here).

Below, I worked with PT Anthony Martin (@admfitness1), to compile a few benefits of squats, along with some tips to help get your started:

001. There is no Better Exercise for Building Overall Strength -
The squat is one of the most functional human movements, it helps to improve both the mobility and stability of the ankle, knee, hip and spine whilst simultaneously toning and strengthening the whole body, with a particular emphasis on legs and glutes.

002. Form is Everything -
Make sure you have correct form and if you are unsure speak to someone! Before piling a lot of weight onto the bar, technique must be perfected. Begin with body weight squats and stretches to ensure your body is flexible enough to cope with the movement, and then slowly work your way up to adding weights. It's taken me 15 months of hard work to get to the weight that I can currently squat, so don't expect to see huge leaps in progress over a few short weeks... (and remember, for lasting results, quick fixes will never work anyway!)

003. More Weight = More Calories Burnt - 
A lot of people fail to realise that a high intensity weight training session can actually burn more calories than a standard mid-intensity cardio session. Lifting heavy combined with plyometric high intensity interval training actually requires a much higher energy output, meaning more calories burnt and more fat lost. Huge compound lifts such as squats will help you to develop shape, muscle and definition.

If you have any enquires for PT sessions with Anthony, or want further information about X4L memberships, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to assist you!  I'm delighted to be working with X4L as a VIP member and affiliate, so expect to see lots more fitness content both on here and my instagram (@amyelizabeth_blog)